The Ups and Downs of Moderating

It’s been nearly 11 months since my last “Writing Corner” update and I think it’s about time to start updating my website again on the regular. I know I posted a few stories and narrations this year but it wasn’t nearly enough in my eyes to justify continuing to keep a website. I actually considered deleting IT but decided against it only because I’ve put ALOT  of work into it already and I would be dumb to remove it only to have to bring it in the future.

Since I’m not going to delete his, I am going to damned well utilize it. So here we go!

Let’s start with some good(?) news. A little over 6 months ago, I became a moderator for Reddit’s /r/NoSleep horror fiction community of 4.2 million subscribers. While I am sure that 4.2 million people don’t actually participate in the community, it is one of Reddit’s default communities so anyone that creates an account will automatically see posts from the community on their Front Page feed. The main difference between /r/NoSleep and all of the other horror communities on Reddit is NoSleep’s Posting and Commenting Guidelines.

The TL;DR version is that “Everything on NoSleep is true, even if it’s not”. This is asking the community to suspend disbelief and allow themselves to pretend that these stories ranging from ghostly hauntings to demonic shopkeepers to mysterious staircases in the woods are all real.

Our goal is to maintain an atmosphere reminiscent of telling scary stories around the campfire for the digital age. Some people like to call these stories “Creepypasta” because they are copied and pasted all around the internet like urban legends used to be spread around by word of mouth.

The author must post a horror story that is within the realms of “believability”. This means that stories about cannibal zombies, the end of the world, and other “large scale world breaking” events are not allowed. These stories are meant to be personal tales of horror told by the person that experienced it to a captive audience. You cannot believe how many people on a daily basis post their story from the perspective of a dog or cat or infant or zombie or demonic being from beyond the Nether. Authors cannot die at the end either. How can you post a story if you are dead?

There are a bunch of other rules to go along with that but I’m not going to spend the entire entry talking about NoSleep rules, although that might be good for another day for another post. A breakdown of which rules I agree with and which ones I don’t may be interesting to talk about. For now, I’ll just stick to talking about the Moderator gig itself.

Being a moderator for /r/NoSleep is like working the complaints department of a customer service call center except at the end of the week, there is no paycheck for your troubles for all the bullshit deal with day in and day out. This is not my job, although some users assume that it is, and we should be available 24/7 to answer their questions and take their abuse. We are volunteers. We have lives outside of NoSleep that we enjoy living.

With the majority of my interaction with the community is telling them that their story or comment was removed because it violated a rule, it is no surprise how often I am told to go fuck myself. I’ve been called an overzealous power-tripping asshat, a fascist censor Nazi, and that my mother should have aborted me in the womb. Those are actual insults being hurled at me too. Banning them is an option but with the creation of a new account, they can bypass the ban to continue their idiocy elsewhere. Well, at least they make me laugh but to my point, this is the shit that I am dealing with nearly every day. With nearly 100 to 150 stories posted a day and thousands of comments, you can only imagine the burnout I experience with trying to keep up with NoSleep.

Two weeks ago, I nearly stepped down as a moderator. I’d had enough of it and didn’t want to spend any more of my time doing something that I was unhappy doing. However, I talked myself out of it because in all honesty, despite the insanity, I really do love NoSleep. It’s a good platform for amateur writers to gain exposure, confidence in their writing, and experience with getting their work out into the world. Some stories have gotten turned into movies or offers to be made into serious motion pictures. Although, I wouldn’t hold my breath on any of these projects actually happening considering professional authors with ties to major entertainment industries have incredible difficulties getting their stories/novels made into films. That’s another discussion for another day.

Another good aspect of NoSleep is that I’ve had several stories turned into audio dramas by the NoSleep Podcast and other people on YouTube have narrated my works as well. The exposure between both is considerable huge as I said in my previous entry nearly a year ago. However, exposure doesn’t put money in my pocket. Actually, it puts money into the pockets of everyone else except the authors but once again, that’s another post at another time.

Another positive of NoSleep is that it has given me enough confidence in my writing that it’s pushed me to continue to work on my craft and turn my efforts towards traditional publishing or self-publishing, if no one wants to bite.

In the end, it’s a love/hate relationship with NoSleep but for the moment, I think we’re okay.

Moving on from NoSleep Mod venting, I’ve made an effort to focus more of my attention on writing short fiction instead of flash. As much as I love twisty tales of terror and getting a finished piece of work out in a day or two, they don’t allow me to really sink my teeth into the meat of good writing. I don’t get to develop characters, do any world building, or go on the adventure with my characters. It’s time to change that.

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing, I am procrastinating at the moment with this blog entry. For my novel, I’ve decided to try my hand in the Fantasy genre after a story seemed to materialize out of nowhere that demanded it be written out. I wrote a flash fiction with the characters, setting, and tone of the story but forgot about it because of my horror-centric brain. I decided that this story was going to be the one to be written this month because if I didn’t make it a priority, it would never get written.

My only real knowledge of the Fantasy genre novel comes from two major sources. “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin (The novels that Game of Thrones is based on for my television folks) and Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series. Beyond those influences, I’ve played every Final Fantasy from 7 onward, except for the online games. I played World of Warcraft for over 1655 hours as well, so I may be underestimating my exposure to the Fantasy genre. I’m going to throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and hope that it sticks while I make it up as I go along the way. I have a general idea of where I want it to go and hopefully, I’ll be 50,000 words into a novel by the end of the month!

On a better note, I’ve made excellent strides in keeping up with my reading. I’ve made it a goal to read at least 4 books a month. 2 on my Kindle and 2 physical books. 1 book must be new, 1 book must be a re-read for each. I’ve restarted Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series and I’ve been reading authors that I’ve never read before like Clive Barker (Yeah, this is a sin), Bryan Smith, and J.F. Gonzalez. Very different authors with very different styles but each can spin an amazing tale.

As far as self-publishing my own collection of short stories, I think the “Human Gravy Collection” will have to wait until next year to be completed. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I don’t think I’ll want to work on anything in December but who knows what the future may bring.

For now, I think I’ll end this here. Gotta get back to work now.

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